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From 2013: @sarahdateechinghuman on The Life Cycle of a Teechur (Part 2)

For those of you who were at my #edscape session, will be at one of my #puwt sessions, or just checked out my archives online, you may be familiar with my “Life Cycle of a Teechur” slide. I just had an “aha” moment in the car, building on that. I probably shouldn’t blog in the car, but let’s just say I’m “at a red light.”

Step One: Grow up.

Be a kid, but not just any kid. Be the kind of kid who overanalyzes everything. Start practicing early, so that you can master this skill and drive everyone around you crazy. The sooner, the better.

Start questioning basic facts of life. Like, why can’t kids vote for president? Why is there a Mothers’ Day and a Fathers’ Day, but not a Kids’ Day? I mean, don’t we matter? This must be a grown-up conspiracy against kids. Kids’ Rights, Right Now!!! Fight for the right to potty!!!

Vow that when you grow up, you will continue the struggle for Kids’ Rights. You’re sick of teachers yelling at you, and constantly correcting you…they don’t treat each other like that. You will treat every kid as a person, not like some little…thing. Like a caterpillar. Even though caterpillars are kinda cool.

Step Two: Become a teechur.

Congratulations! You made it through childhood and puberty, even though you were a second-class citizen, having to deal with age discrimination and the like. Now that you’re 22 and officially an adult, it’s time to start working for the cause by infiltrating the other side…as a .

Time to start changing some minds! Since you’re an adult now, these other adults have to listen to you. That’s how it works, right? After all, you are still young enough that you can relate to the kids, so everyone should be happy that you’re here. It’s like having the other team’s playbook, but everybody wins. This will be great, !

Wait, what? Why is nobody taking you seriously? Just because you’re new doesn’t mean you don’t have good ideas. Wait a minute, is this deja vu?

Rookie Rights, Right Now!

Step Three: What da???

Whew, that was close. You almost didn’t make it through that last one. A lot of your fellow rookies bailed when they saw that teaching wasn’t what they thought it would be. But not you. You’re tenacious. Good for you.

So here you are, in the classroom. Fully supporting your Kids’ Rights platform. You treat them the way you’d want to be treated, as a human being with valuable contributions and input. You want to be the opposite of some of those adults they have to deal with. So you always have a smile. You ask for their input. You try to never raise your voice. You let them know that they matter. This is great stuff, and plus, all the experts agree with you.

You don’t want to discipline your students, because you remember what it’s like to be embarrassed by your teachers. You give them rewards all the time, even for mediocre work, because hey, at least they tried. Gotta build the self-esteem, right? You try to avoid calling mom and dad, because they cry and it kills you to see them so upset.

Everyone chews you up and spits you out, you frigging softie.

Step Four: More growth.

A few years pass, and you realize that maybe you had a few things wrong. You’ve realized that it is your responsibility to help raise these children, being that you are with them for more waking hours than their parents.

You start viewing them as your extended sons and daughters, and think back to how your parents raised you. When you asked for Kids’ Day, who gave it to you? They did. So even when you thought the rest of the world was against you, Mom and Dad still had your back.

On the flip side, remember all the bad stuff you used to do as a kid, and you got punished? Yeah, you may have been upset at the time, but you see now how those punishments probably saved you from being some kind of societal miscreant now. You actually turned out okay. (A few years later, you tear up a little while writing a blog post.)

So, you redefine your teaching philosophy. You decide to keep all of the good things you’re doing, but decide to stick to your guns and grow a backbone. You finally understand what it meant when the loving adults in your life would discipline you and say, “this hurts me more than it hurts you.”

Also like your parents, you realize that, along with the discipline, kids need love and support. You tell them (and show them) how important they are, charging them with doing the same for each other.

In the classroom, you keep some rewards, but not all. You recognize quality work, AS WELL AS serious effort. When kids turn in some garbage, you don’t accept it and ask them do it over. You realize that when teachers did this to you, it wasn’t to be a jerk, it was to make you better. You suddenly want to go back and thank them.

When you apply your new attitude to your classroom, you notice a gradual change. Before you know it, your reputation has changed from pushover to seasoned teacher. Excuse me, teechur.

You are still an advocate for Kids’ Rights, though.

Step Five: Never stop growing.

Everything you’ve learned about dealing with kids, you apply to humans in general. You realize once again, as you did when you were a child, that adults and kids aren’t that different. Adults also sometimes make mistakes that need to be addressed. You should know, you make mistakes all the time…and you love it when your kids show you the right way.



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Sarah Thomas, PhD

Educator/Regional Tech Coordinator. Passionate about using social media to connect w/ educators around the world. We all have a story. What's yours? #EduMatch